PID Ribbon burner discussion

Daniel Macina

Well-Known Member
Ok. I know of a smith that just built a pid controlled ribbon burner forge. He made a shell and lined with soft firebricks. He's going to use kiln shelving for the floor I believe.

Keep In mind this guy really knows his stuff. He HTs professionally. He says he basically has a ht oven that he can easily forge in as well. Now correct me if I'm wrong but I've always heard Ribbon burners burn to hot for pretty much anything but Damascus? I have also heard that A PID forge doesn't do much for you generally. I would love for this to be a great setup but I just don't know…… what do y'all think?
 

Wayne Coe

Forum Owner - Moderator
You can adjust the temp of a Ribbon Burner by adjusting the air/fuel mixture just as you would a oxy/fuel torch. Check out the attachments on the Forge Supplies page of my web-site, Previously Boss Dog started a thread about pyrometers or pids and I posted my instructions for making one.

Let me know if I can help you
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Although a PID controlled for CAN work decently in the hands of a VERY experienced individual, my advice to most is just DON'T. I cannot count the hours I've spent on the phone or emails trying to help folks who TRY to build a PID controlled forge, have no idea what so ever about thermal mass/dynamics, or how those aspects play a role in controlling temps.... then call me, expecting an on the spot solution to all their problems.

Most individuals simply don't understand that the forge itself must be built with the use of a PID in mind.... in order to have any chance of success. What I've discovered is that most who have limited knowledge, endeavor to build this type of forge because they are simply lazy, and expect to be able to "set it and forget it"....meaning they expect to be able to set the PID at say 1550F...... and then get all shocked and shaken when they get a 300-500F temp swing from the set point. It all has to do with the thermal mass of the forge, and the heating/cooling delays that occur when the PID tells the burner to kick on or off. This problem is compounded when folks try to use a PID with a forge running multiple burners.

Unless you have YEARS of experience with propane forges, you are FAR better off using a PID as a thermocouple/temp readout device, and using a simple propane needle valve to control the fuel/flow to the burner. I always encourage folks to use a single burner setup, and keep things as simple as possible when it comes to a forge........ PAY ATTENTION to what you're doing when forging, and you can actually spend your time forging, versus forever trying to make something work....that never will.
 

Daniel Macina

Well-Known Member
Yessir. I definitely don't have the skills or knowledge to build a PID controled forge. I was just curious about it more then anything. I've built two propane forges neither of which I have worked that great. Never can get the burner angle just right to get that nice swirl. I think I'll just stick to my coal forge for now. Call me crazy but I like using coal
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Not at all crazy! I started out with coal, and for about the first 5 years or so used it exclusively. My switch to propane was more or less "forced" when we moved from Arkansas to Montana (Air Force change of assignment), and I simply could not find any decent coal in the whole Northwest. It's strange sometimes....the things we reminisce about...... after switching to propane, I used to place a few little pieces of coal in the front opening of the propane forge....just so it smelled like it should when I forged. :)

Overall, propane is without a doubt the best forging fuel for Bladesmithing, but it's always tough to leave what we know.

I hope I didn't come off as coarse about the PID controlled forges..... I've just had so many dealings with beginners who simply don't understand that there's a learning curve to anything worth doing, and they expect immediate gratification.....and there's nothing to do with forging that doesn't require some time and practice.
 

Daniel Macina

Well-Known Member
Didn't come off coarse at all Ed. Completely made sense. The first batch of coal I got was terrible dirty stuff that almost scared me from coal forever. Found a farrier supply about an hr and a half away that sells the good stuff. Good coal is EVERYTHING if you decide to go the coal route. Lucky enough I live in the country and can burn coal.
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
Ed's experience with PID controlled forges are the same as my experience when trying to PID control a ventura forge, just didn't work so good. From what I've read, a blown forge is fairly easy to PID control because you can modulate the air supply to control temperature. I've been wanting to build a blown forge just to try it, but don't use my existing forge all that much. I'm a stock removal guy due to shoulder issues.
 
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